Increase Canada’s commitment to vaccine equity to end the pandemic

This is an open letter addressed to P.M. Justin Trudeau


February 11, 2022



The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,

P.C., M.P. Prime Minister of Canada

80 Wellington Street

Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2



Subject: Increase Canada’s commitment to vaccine equity to end the pandemic


Dear Prime Minister,

At a time when Canada and the world face yet another variant of COVID-19, the importance of ending this pandemic is even more crucial. As members of the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University, we are writing to urge you to take a global leadership role in promoting and strengthening global vaccine equity, as it remains the only scientifically viable option to end this pandemic.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was concern about Canada over-ordering vaccines – close to five times what was required. Although these actions contributed to global vaccine inequity, we recognize the urgency with which every country with sufficient resources, acted to stem the pandemic by vaccinating their population as quickly as possible. We have also witnessed alarming policy actions, such as hoarding vaccines, delivering imminently expiring vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, and delays in delivering promised vaccines to the COVAX initiative and other bilateral partners.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the global health community, including experts at McGill University, have warned against hoarding vaccines and delays in delivering promised vaccines to countries in need as both ethically remiss and a major setback in overcoming the pandemic. As reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canada had an excess of 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in December 2021, and in September 2021 there were reports that Canada donated vaccines that were about to expire to countries in Africa. Of further concern, a survey of regional health ministries by the Canadian Press indicated that by November 2021, close to 1 million doses of vaccines had been destroyed due to expiration. Currently, news organizations and researchers report that Canada is significantly behind on its promised 200-million vaccine donations, which include direct vaccine donations and funding for vaccine purchasing. These lags in strengthening the COVAX initiative are missteps that contribute to vaccine inequity, enabling the emergence of novel variants and further overwhelming health systems, including those in Canada. To counter these trends and sustainably solve global vaccine inequity, we need high-income country leaders like you to be vocal on waiving intellectual property rights related to COVID-19 vaccines and advocating for sharing of technology and know-how.

Based on our expertise in local and global health practice and research, we agree with the WHO’s recommendation that high-income countries prioritize vaccine equity and demonstrate leadership via concrete action towards this goal. As we see COVID-19 cases rising in Canada, we humbly remind you of a basic principle of global health, namely that infectious diseases do not respect borders. We urge you and your government to accelerate and further strengthen vaccine donations, to implement policies to avoid hoarding of vaccines and to assume a stronger global role on intellectual property sharing on vaccines for COVID-19. While the policy windows for these three priorities may not occur simultaneously and may be subject to political complexities, we believe that Canada can lead by stepping up its donations and minimizing vaccine hoarding.

At a time when self-interest and nationalism prevail globally and risk extending this pandemic indeterminately, it is time for Canada to take a leadership role on global vaccine equity – the single most viable, practical and humane way to end this pandemic. We count on you to lead the way. We offer our complete support.

We would be pleased to hear back from you and we are available to meet if you wish. Please do not hesitate to contact us at: chair.fammed [at]


On behalf of the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University

Marion Dove, MD, FCFP

Associate Professor and Chair

Department of Family Medicine

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

McGill University

Alayne M. Adams, PhD

Associate Professor and Director of Global Health Programs

Department of Family Medicine

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

McGill University

Shashika Bandara

Doctoral Student

Department of Family Medicine

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

McGill University




Rick Theis, Director, Prime Minister’s Office

The Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P., Minister of Health

The Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan, P.C., M.P., Minister of International Development

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Finance

The Hon. Erin O’Toole, P.C., C.D., M.P., Leader of the Opposition, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Jagmeet Singh, M.P., Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

Yves-François Blanchet, M.P., Leader of the Bloc Québécois

The Hon. Mary Ng, P.C., M.P., Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development

The Hon. Mélanie Joly, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Hon. Seamus O’Regan Jr., P.C., M.P., Minister of Labour




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